DePaul hands ASU men’s hoops first home loss

ASU sought revenge for its four-point loss to DePaul last season.

That didn’t happen. Instead, the Blue Demons (7-3) served up the Sun Devils (8-2) a 17-point loss.

DePaul dominated ASU in the 78-61 blowout Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils have now lost to the Blue Demons in consecutive seasons. These two teams met last year at the Old Spice Classic where DePaul defeated ASU 68-64 on Nov. 27.

“It’s definitely disappointing to us as a team now and for the guys that were here last year that actually played in that game up in Orlando,” senior wing Carrick Felix said.

It’s hard to find anything that went right for the Sun Devils after the opening minutes of the first half. They led 7-0 with 16:41 in the first half before the Blue Demons made their first shot. DePaul started 0-for-6 from the floor while ASU was aggressively attacking the paint early in the first half. The Sun Devils just weren’t making their free throws, a constant struggle for them this season. They took six free throws in the first two minutes and made three. They finished 8-of-19 at the line.

“We don’t give ourselves any relief with our free-throw shooting,” coach Herb Sendek said. “We have seven points, but we should have 10 because we’re 3-for-6 from the foul line.”

The Blue Demons went on to shoot 54 percent from the floor in the first half following their cold 0-for-6 start. They took the lead on sophomore forward Jamee Crockett’s 3-point shot to make it 14-13 with 11:39 left in the first half. It was part of DePaul’s 10-0 run midway through the first half, and the Blue Demons never trailed after Crockett’s bucket.

“They were intense on energy from the tip-off and after the 15-minute mark in the first half, I think our energy decreased and theirs elevated,” redshirt freshman Jahii Carson said.

Carson was able to penetrate into the lane with ease until DePaul brought extra help to clog up the paint. He tied for a team-high 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting. He shot four free throws, which came during the first two minutes of the game. Felix and junior guard Evan Gordon also had 12 points.

“I say myself and Carrick, we both bring the team’s energy,” Carson said. “I think we both brought a little bit in the second half but our team starts off our energy in the first half. Their whole team had energy throughout the whole game, so we really couldn’t make up for that.”

The Blue Demons further threw off the Sun Devils’ offensive rhythm with a full court press. While ASU only had 13 turnovers, it struggled to get a flow when it did break through the press.

“At the end of the press, I don’t think we attacked when we could have,” Sendek said. “And then we got caught in no-man’s land and settled. What we want to do is attack when we can to get an easy basket. If not, then we should run our offense and hopefully get a good shot in our offense.”

Sendek said ASU played poor defensively. He counted 10 deflections in the first half, which he also said was a very low number. Sendek felt ASU lost the battle on 50-50 balls. ASU was also outrebounded 44-34.

“They’re an athletic team, but our leading rebounder is (sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling) and he’s not exactly the most athletic guy,” Sendek said. “It’s not just about being athletic.”

DePaul shot 50 percent from the floor in the game. Junior guard Brandon Young had 18 points and nine assists. Senior guard Worrel Clahar added 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

“I don’t think we were able to string any kind of stops together whatsoever,” Sendek said. “They got into the paint at will as reflected by their very high shooting percentage. They beat off the dribble. They beat us on curling screens and just really had their way with us when they had the ball.”

The Sun Devils snapped a four-game losing streak Wednesday. It was their first home loss this season. They’ll look to bounce back Saturday against Dartmouth. Tip-off is at 1 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network.